Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

Driving Lessons

From The Guardian

I have just turned 17 and I face a dilemma: should I learn to drive? Gaining a driving licence is seen by many as a passage to adulthood and maturity: it represents freedom and can be a vital asset when looking for work.

But with school closures, lockdowns and the financial insecurities that my generation face, is it really worth spending money on lessons now?

According to the personal finance site NimbleFins, if you do not block book lessons the average cost across Great Britain is £27 an hour. Block bookings bring it down to £23. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says the average learner takes 47 hours of driving lessons before passing their test. That adds up to between £1,081 and £1,269.

There’s no dilemma here, because that’s £1269 + 47 hours of your time for something that is with you for life. You pass and it’s there, ready to use for probably over 50 years. That’s less than  £40/year?.What qualification delivers more value for so little? Well, CORGI gas fitting (or whatever it’s called today), but you’re probably going to need to learn to drive to fix people’s boilers. Any rational assessment of where to spend money on children’s education would include state-funded driving lessons, but good luck with that in the current anti-car culture.
But after all of that, the biggest single cost is likely to be my insurance. Premiums are colossal for younger drivers. Insurance companies look at your age as one of the big things that determine your risk, and young drivers represent more risk.

According to NimbleFins, the average premium for comprehensive insurance cover for an 18-year-old driver in 2020 was £1,871 a year.
That’s true. It’s absolutely eye-watering. It might not add up. But even if you don’t drive until you’re 25, that’s only 8 * £40 lost. And at some point in there, the eye-watering cost of insurance might make sense.
The problem if you haven’t learnt to drive is that when the opportunities come, you can’t just spin it up. You can go and find a £300 car to drive on AutoTrader and be on the road with it tomorrow. But the lessons and tests are going to take months. Spending £40 per year for that qualification, to be ready when you need it is a no-brainer.
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FrankH
FrankH
22 days ago

Does it really take 47 hours to learn to drive? When I were a lad the rule of thumb was one lesson for every year of your age. Is the driving test so much harder these days? It doesn’t seem to turn out better drivers.

Spike
Spike
22 days ago

Like the UK “housing crisis,” it seems there is a personal mobility crisis, both fed by the regulatory state (the latter crisis propping up driving schools). The US has them, thankfully with fewer lobbyists, but parents and summer Driver Ed are “free” resources. An adult can self-teach the rules of the road and pass written+driving exams at the DMV. Our bigger lobby is automakers, which want licensing to be super-easy.

decnine
decnine
22 days ago

“When I were a lad the rule of thumb was one lesson for every year of your age.”

Me too. However, today, the roads are much busier. Learner drivers today probably spend much more of each lesson stationary in a queue.

Bernie G.
Bernie G.
22 days ago

I recall the examiner’s disparaging remarks on completing what was my first attempt at a driving test many years ago. Told me he was not at all impressed. But as he had failed the previous eight that day, felt obliged to pass someone.

Bernie G.
Bernie G.
22 days ago

Correct with the ‘no-brainer’, in-as-much as every job I have held has necessitated a valid driving licence.

AC Harper
AC Harper
22 days ago

When I was a lad… I drove the family car accompanied and on a provisional licence for a couple of years before I took 5 lessons ‘to learn the test’. I know things have changed but there are ways around paying for too many lessons.

Spike
Spike
22 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Yes, we have that, “Learner’s Permits” with sensible restrictions like daytime, parent or guardian in front seat, within x miles from home (will vary by U.S. state). I wonder in how many cases someone “has to” overpay to learn, it’s actually that Someone doing the paying.

Barks
Barks
22 days ago
Reply to  Spike

Some parents are unfit to be giving the instruction. Holding one’s tongue……..

John H
John H
22 days ago

Back in 80’s the British Army would pay for 24 hours of lessons with BSM.

David
David
21 days ago

It does depend a bit on his career and where he lives. Is he going to be a plumber then yes!
Maybe not so much if he lives in central London and is going to work in the city.

TomJ
TomJ
16 days ago

I learnt to drive in a week at Her Majesty’s expense. Well, a week and a half as I failed the first test, but the Warrant Officer was very clear on what I had to get sorted…

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